Jute is seeing the light of hope once again as the government has undertaken numerous initiatives to revitalize the once loss-mired golden fibre of Bangladesh.
The cultivation of jute and production of its jute goods have increased. Jute mills are also being modernised. Preparations are underway to mark National Jute Day on March 6.
Sources at Bangladesh Jute Research Institute (BJRI) said that in 2010, 700,000-800,000 bales of jute were harvested on 750,000 hectares of land across the country. The scenario remained almost the same for the next several years. However, in 2017, jute was cultivated on 817,000 hectares of land. Farmers hope more than 9.2 million bales of jute will be harvested this year. If the target is fulfilled it will set a new record.
The government as undertaken various projects such as conducting more research, formulating new regulations, reforming jute mills, and imposing eco tax on polythene to encourage people to use jute products, sources at the Ministry of Textiles and Jute said.
Along with increasing the use of jute goods in the country, the government is also planning to export these commodities to foreign countries in order to help generate employment.
The loss of the BJMC has been lowered to Tk180 crore in the current fiscal. The prime minister considers BJMC a 'disabled child' of the state
According to the government, jute will play a vital role in expanding the export market, earning foreign currency, safeguarding the environment, and generating employment as the country is being elevated to middle income status by 2021.
Other than bags and sacks, various products such as shoes, handkerchiefs, clothes, bedsheets, and caps are now being manufactured from jute.
Jute is also used in the manufacturing of furniture, utensils, warm clothes, sofas, paper and hardboard, according to the Ministry of Textiles and Jute. Demand for these products is on the rise since they are environment friendly.
The use of jute has increased considerably in the packaging of commodities. Yarn is now being manufactured by mixing jute with cotton. Clothes are being made with such yarn and being exported as well.
According to the Export Promotion Bureau (EPB), Australia, Canada, US, Belgium, India, Indonesia, Thailand, China, Pakistan, and Philippines are trying to import jute sacks from Bangladesh.
Currently the growth rate in raw jute exports is 44.35%.
National Jute Day was observed last year for the first time. This year the day will be observed with the slogan `Golden fibre, golden country, jute goods of Bangladesh’.
To mark the day, the Ministry of Textiles and Jute has chalked out a set of programs aiming to increase the use and export of jute.
Various programs will also be held in district and union levels. A three-day fair showcasing jute goods will be held in many parts of the country. Programs will be held abroad as well.
Mirza Azam, state minister for the Ministry of Textiles and Jute, said: “The government has made the use of jute bags mandatory for 17 items including paddy, rice, wheat, corn, sugar, chili, turmeric, ginger, onion, garlic, coriander, and flour. To promote the sector, Jute Act-2017 has also been formulated. The Jute Diversification Promotion Centre (JDPC) has innovated 235 jute goods to promote jute in the global market.”
He also said: “After making the use of jute bags mandatory, the demand for one billion jute bags has been created in the domestic market. Along with inspiring jute farmers, the industry is making its way into the international market with the slogan ‘Bengal’s jute win hearts around the world’.”
Sources at the EPB said Bangladesh earned Tk7,294.40 crore from exports of jute and jute goods in the 2015-16 fiscal year and Tk875.50 crore in the last fiscal year. Besides, 1.2 million bales of jute are also exported annually.
Sources said the repayment time for block account loans for jute millers has been extended to 10 years from five years at the directive of the prime minister.
The government is also considering making a refinance fund of Tk5,000 crore at 2% interest for the jute industry like the Export Development Fund (EDF).
Textiles and Jute Minister Md Emaz Uddin Pramanik said jute mills under the Bangladesh Jute Mills Corporation (BJMC) produced 95,000 metric tons of jute goods in FY 2014-15. The BJMC earned Tk1,156.53 crore against the expenditure of Tk1,850 crore. In last fiscal year, the BJMC mills incurred a loss of Tk693.56 crore. However, the amount of loss has come down a lot during the current fiscal year.
State Minister Mirza Azam said: “The loss of the BJMC has been lowered to Tk180 crore in the current fiscal. The prime minister considers BJMC a `disabled child’ of the state. So, we are keeping an eye on BJMC.”
The government is also working on upgrading/elevating the jute mills to reclaim the golden era of jute. A memorandum of understanding has also been signed with a Chinese company for the modernisation of three jute mills under BJMC, sources said.
This article was first published on banglatribune.com